In our 104 years, undoubtedly, we have offered countless types of retreats from silent retreats to preached retreats: from retreats for advisements to entire grades, from holding them at retreat houses to just holding them on 84th Street. We have retreats for students, for faculty and staff, for parents and alumni parents, and hopefully we will start offering them again for alumni too.
Currently there is one freshman retreat that is held at the school over two days in mid-March. Overseen by several faculty it utilizes upperclassmen in a variety of ways. Freshmen find it a bonding experience and are stretched as they spend part of the second day doing Christian service in several different locations.
The Quest retreat has long been the sophomore retreat and has five junior leaders and two senior leaders, and six faculty and staff leading the effort.
Right now, retreats in junior and senior year are optional and about 60% of the students take advantage of the opportunity to go on a retreat or help lead a retreat. The options are many, including a silent retreat, Emmaus—a retreat designed as a journey walking with Jesus and conversation with others—and a senior retreat prior to graduation.
Next year we will require all seniors to make a retreat, and in order to provide enough options for the 40% of the class who now do not take advantage of the opportunity for retreat we will add new Father-Son retreats. These will be a two-day overnight retreat where fathers and sons engage in conversations that reflect on God’s presence in their lives and relationships.
Next year we will also include in freshman orientation an introduction to Catholic liturgical worship and practices. While all our students are baptized Catholics, the level of familiarity with the Church’s liturgical life varies dramatically. As Catholic grade schools have closed, more of our students come from charter or public schools, and they may not have had much catechetical training. Father Mark Lane, CO, our school chaplain, will lead them in some basic understanding of our liturgy and appropriate behavior and actions.
This year we broke with a century of tradition as we held school—and Mass—on Holy Days of Obligation. In yesteryear, having Holy Days off to go to Mass with your family may have made sense, but in a world where church attendance is down across the board, and recognizing the temptation to many parents to allow their tired, stressed out sons to sleep in on those days off instead of getting up for Mass, we decided that it made sense to move those days off to other places and have school-wide Masses on these days.
More frequent retreats, more frequent opportunities for Mass, more practical education about their faith (in addition to a strenuous theology curriculum): these are all part of today’s experience at Regis. As stated in our mission statement, we take our responsibility for “academic rigor and Catholic formation” very seriously. Our strategic plan (to be approved by the Board at the May meeting) and our on-going curriculum review are “designed to promote each student’s intellectual and spiritual growth grounded in a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ.” As the mission statement concludes: “Regis seeks to inspire and train the ethnically diverse young men in its care to become imaginative leaders committed to promoting justice and exerting leadership in the Church, in the civic community, and in their chosen profession.”
Thank you for your support of our mission and of our students.
Be assured of my prayers for you and your family.
Daniel K. Lahart, SJ